Mark Atkinson is the first to admit that Gloucester Rugby have made a disappointing start to the season but the centre insists no-one at Kingsholm is hitting the panic button just yet.
The Cherry & Whites return to Aviva Premiership Rugby action this weekend when they host Wasps at Kingsholm.
David Humphreys’ side have not won at home in the league all season and have only won one of their first seven in all to sit tenth in the table but have been boosted this week by the capture of Carl Fearns ahead of next season.
But life does not get much easier for them this campaign as they face the league’s top two sides in Wasps and Saracens over the next two consecutive weekends.
But after surrendering late leads against both Exeter Chiefs and Northampton Saints in recent weeks in the league, 26-year-old Atkinson insists his side are not a million miles away.
“It’s been a tough start to the season, and not what we wanted,” said the former Bedford Blue.
“But the last two weeks off for a lot of us has been great, we have had a big training and fitness focus.
“It has been a fresh start and hopefully we can build on some of the positives we have had so far this season.
“We are feeling good about a lot of things, the results have not fallen our way in the last few minutes against both Exeter and Northampton – we were in contention in both and fell away.
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“We have had two drawn games as well so that is a few wins we have lost rather than that other teams have earned, but we take full responsibility for that and know that we have to be better.
“We know we are not too far away; there is no need to panic and try and change everything. Small details here and there is all it needs.”
Defensive intensity has been a big work on for Humphreys’ side in recent weeks – with marked improvements in their draw with the Chiefs and narrow loss at Franklin’s Gardens.
Atkinson has appeared in six of Gloucester’s seven league games so far as Humphreys has battled injury problems to try and select a consistent midfield alongside the likes of Billy Twelvetrees, Matt Scott and James Hook.
But Atkinson insists squad rotation has not been a problem for his side – who are itching to set the record straight and claim a big scalp in Wasps this weekend.
“It’s not from lack of trying; the last couple of results against two of the bigger sides show that we have been giving it everything,” he added.
“It does not get any easier, the top two sides in succession, but it’s a great chance to play them both. Everyone is feeling fresh, so if we were going to pick a time this would probably be it.
“Sarries and Wasps have players away, but they just seem to replace internationals with internationals so the squad will not give much away – it might look like an advantage but we will see.
“Back to back wins in this league and you rocket up the table, back to back losses and you’re under pressure and having one of the worst seasons.
“It is unrelenting in Aviva Premiership Rugby so we have to try not to listen to outside noise and stay focused as a squad on what we do.
“You struggle to find weaknesses with Wasps, but we have hopefully found some areas to exploit.”